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CAHOOTS and HOOTS workers win significant raises in new contract

Van on street.
Brian Bull
CAHOOTS and its in-school offshoot, HOOTS, serve as mental health support services and an alternative to police intervention in some cases.

CAHOOTs and HOOTs workers in Eugene have won significant raises after more than a year of bargaining.

The crisis workers have voted to ratify their first union contract with White Bird Clinic. They’ll now earn a starting rate of $22 an hour, up from $18 previously.

The agreement also includes additional pay increases for long-serving employees, with some set to receive over $34 hourly.

“This is changing the course of history for a lot of us in our personal lives,” said bargaining committee member Chelsea Swift. “And it’s also bringing White Bird into the present with living wages, which is the exact change that we were asking of them.”

At a union rally on April 5, CAHOOTS worker Ashley Cakebread said she was making just $19.31 per hour, despite working at White Bird for nearly ten years. Under this new contract, she will receive an over 60% raise, according to the unionized workers.

Swift said CAHOOTS has been facing hiring shortages and a loss of staff due to low pay. But with these changes, she now expects recruitment to skyrocket.

“This truly is our gift back to our community,” said Swift. “We will certainly become more available, be able to provide higher quality services, because we’re not burnt out and working over-time.”

White Bird Clinic responded to KLCC with an emailed statement attributed to Executive Director Jeremy Gates. In it, he said the nonprofit is pleased with the agreement.

“We have always been deeply committed to promoting community health & wellness and remain committed to supporting our employees who do this passionate work," wrote Gates. “This commitment fuels our ongoing efforts to establish sustainable organizational frameworks that prioritize our mission."

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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